Monday, April 5, 2010

2010 Global Reading Challenge: currently reading ICE STATION by Matthew Reilly

Over this Easter weekend I've been reading my 10th and 11th books for Dorte's excellent 2010 Global Reading Challenge.

As I've previously said, I'm aiming for the 'Expert' level - to read two novels from each of the six continents, trying to read and review novels from 12 different countries if possible (and new-to-you authors), as well as two novels set in Antarctica - so a total of 14 books from 14 different authors (from 12+ countries). So I'm closing in on completion - one Asian, one South American, and one Antarctica-set book to go for me, once I finish the novel I'm currently reading.

Earlier this weekend I finished my first South American crime novel, Luiz Alfredo Garcia-Roza's SOUTHWESTERLY WIND (written by a Brazilian, set in Rio de Janeiro, read in English translation). I will post more about this book, which I enjoyed, soon.

Now I am partway through ICE STATION by Matthew Reilly. It's more of an out-and-out adventure thriller than a crime/thriller novel, but that's okay. It's tough to find Antarctica-set novels in general. I've actually read a couple of Reilly's books in the past, and enjoyed them. They are a bit mindless, but fun. And Reilly has a fascinating back-story, writing his first novel (CONTEST) while at Law School, he was roundly rejected by all the publishers, so he self-publised, worked hard selling it basically from 'the back of a car', so to speak, it became a hit, he was picked up by a big publisher, and now he's sold truckloads and truckloads of his fast-paced adventure thrillers.

In ICE STATION, after a team of American scientists at Wilkes Ice Station discover what seems to be a spaceship in a four-million-year-old cavern below the ice, two of the divers disappear while checking out the craft. Lt. Shane "Scarecrow" Schofield and his highly trained team of Marines respond to the scientists' distress signal. By the time the leathernecks reach Wilkes, three days later, one of the scientists has killed another, six more members of the Wilkes team have disappeared in the ice cave and eight French scientists from a nearby station are for some reason at the U.S. base. Would the French government kill Americans to capture a frozen UFO?

Anarctica is the last unconquered continent, a murderous expanse of howling winds, blinding whiteouts and deadly crevasses. First comes a horrific firefight. Then comes a plunge into a drowning pool filled with killer whales. Next comes the hard part, as a handful of survivors begin an electrifying, red-hot, non-stop battle of survival across the continent and against wave after wave of elite military assassins - who've all come for one thing: a secret buried deep beneath the ice...

A little cheesy and over-the-top? Probably. Exciting? Definitely. It's a nice change of pace for me anyway. Has anyone else read any of Matthew Reillly's work? What do you think? Does anyone have a recommendation for a good, non-Brazilian, South American crime novel?


  1. Craig - I am impressed with the way you've been meeting that Global Challenge! I certainly wish you well with the rest of it. Here is an idea for South America - Andean Express by Juan De Recacoechea. Here is the Globe and Mail'sblurb about it:


    By Juan De Recacoechea, translated by Adrian Althoff, Akashic books, 176 pages, $15.95

    We don't get nearly enough South American crime fiction in translation here. We hear of the big names, but it takes a gutsy publisher like Akashic to bring the works of the Bolivian novelist Juan De Recacoechea into English. Subtle, nuanced, elegantly styled and beautifully translated by Adrian Althoff, Andean Express is a great introduction to this gifted author's work.

    It's 1952, and on the train from La Paz to Arica, in Chile, a group of travellers are about to blunder into each other's secrets. There is, of course, a murder, but it's the interchange between the characters that's at the heart of this novel. De Recacoechea has touches of the old noir masters like Jim Thompson, but the voice is uniquely his as he explores everything from the highly structured caste and class systems of Bolivia to the desperation of love and loss.

    I don't know if it'll interest you, but it was my first thought.

  2. Thanks for the recommendation Margot. I couldn't find Andean Express that easily here in New Zealand (on a quick scan around the place), but I have managed to order a copy of another crime novel of his, called AMERICAN VISA, online from a NZ-based bookstore, instead. So I'm looking forward to receiving that soon.

  3. You're right Craig, Reilly's books are a bit mindless but also loads of fun - he throws everything into this one but, of course, good old Scarecrow can't be beaten. Sometimes it's just nice to know that the good guys are gonna win :)

  4. Craig it is quite difficult to find some South america crime fiction writers translated. May I suggest Ricardo Piglia (Argentina). I have not read him yet but I understand his books in English are available in Amazon. Yo may also have a look in Google books: Latin American mystery writers: an A-to-Z guide by Darrell B. Lockhart.

  5. I´ll have to consider Matthew Reilly.

    And with regard to S. America I would have said Jose was the right person to consult, but I can see he came before me.